Even though global car sales have never been higher, many automakers still find themselves suffering from overcapacity problems in places like Europe. After Ford shut down its assembly plant in Genk, Belgium earlier this month, some former workers have tried to pitch it as the perfect place for the next Tesla factory.

TeslaMondo reports on a website entitled “Welkom Tesla”, where former Ford engineer Lieven Smeyers wrote the open letter below to Musk outlining the reasons why the electric automaker may want to buy up the Genk factory soon. Citing lower wages but high productivity, Smeyers notes that the Genk plant was once the “crown jewel” of Ford’s European operations. In service for 50 years, some 14 million cars came off of the Belgian factory’s assembly lines and the factory employed as many as 4,300 people directly, with another 5,000 jobs supported by local suppliers.

So why is Ford closing one of its oldest and best factories? There are dozens of factors that come into such a decision, but I suspect that the Genk factory was operating at just 65% of its maximum 350,000 vehicle production capacity had a lot to do with it. That’s about 30% less than the former NUMMI factory that Tesla took over in Fremont, California, which could potentially produce as many as 500,000 cars a year. Tesla came in to save the NUMMI factory after GM and Toyota pulled out, though it currently employs just a fraction of the workforce that once inhabited its halls.

Though Tesla may saved the NUMMI factory, there’s not really any need for a new factory, especially considering that the electric automaker will barely build 30,000 vehicles this year. True, there’s a long waiting list for the Model X, and there has been talk time and again about opening more European operations. Tesla has also expanded rather aggressively in Europe in a bid to scoop up market share in a place where the EV market has taken off like a plug-in rocketship.

But more than anything this is a Hail Mary pass to Musk in a last-second bid to save thousands of jobs, and despite his reputation as a real-life Ironman, the Tesla CEO can’t be expected to save every closing factory. At least not yet.


Dear Mr. Musk,

Being an engineer designs a car an enthusiast for years, I am Following the development of the Tesla products from the early beginning.

Last week, Ford Company Announced the closure of Their plant at Genk, Belgium, near the German border. The Genk plant used to be the crown jewel of Ford Europe with the production of the three European top range models: Mondeo, S-Max and Galaxy. The news constitutes a black day for the economy in the province of Limburg, only 50 miles from the European capital of Brussels. In Addition to the more than 4,300 jobs at Ford Genk resolves itself, more than 5,000 jobs are threatened at Ford Genk’s suppliers.

About Production in times of economic crisis and recession has hit the Genk plant hard in recent years. Ford Genk is Currently only working at 65% capacity (max. 350,000 cars / y). Although salary costs are 5% lower and productivity is higher than in Germany, Ford Decided to close down their best performing European plants, since only 4% of the production was for the internal, Belgian market. The closure will have a minor effect on the image of the company in Europe, since only Belgium is affectedness ..

The value of the Ford plant in Genk is accurate estimated at 40 million €. The Belgian and Flemish government will probably negociate to buy the the state-of-the-art production plant with excellent logistic facilities for one, symbolical euro, in order to develop the area with new, innovate technology. They used to do the same (successfully) with the former Renault plant in Vilvoorde 15 years ago.

The best thing That could happen to make forget the suffering traditional car market and to support the boosting innovative renewable energy sector in the heart of Europe is the presence of an Innovative and taking the lead company.

I think it’s Tesla-time now.

Thanks a lot for your attention. Maybe it’s worth it to take contact with our Prime Minister Kris Peeters. http://www.flanders.be/en/enterprise-and-investment
Hope to hear from you soon in the European press.

Best regards,
Lieven Smeyers